Monday, 9 January 2012

Tracing v Light Box

Working on the Snowdrops got me thinking about the methods I use to transfer a drawing. Everyone has their own idea and really it is down to what works best for you, whether it's drawing directly onto watercolour paper or preparing a drawing and then transferring it. 

A light box is a simple device that allows you to see the drawn image through watercolour paper. The benefit of this method is that you can trace your drawing very lightly directly onto your paper, turn the lights off to see where you have been and you can leave it for a cup of tea and come back to it later. With tracing paper there is a lot of pencil work and the more you have to go back over your own pencil lines, the more there is room for error. Tracing is useful, particularly for small pieces or when I want to add other elements to a composition or reverse the image. Lately though, I have been using the light box more often than not, as tracing has a tendency to leave marks on the paper and I can't be bothered to keep going over pencil lines.

One of my ever resourceful Dad's classic 'makes'.
When the lights are on, WOW!!

Although there are loads of really good light boxes available now, (Artograph has a good selection of light boxes and pads and are available in the UK from The London Graphics Centre and Jackson's Art), the one I use was knocked up by Dad some years ago. At the time, light boxes were hard to come by, expensive and too small for the job. As you can see this beauty is more than capable and can take paper size of A3. In the shops, a light box of similar size could cost you upwards of £300. Ouch!!        


Claire said...

I have a lightbox but find myself using tracing paper mostly as the initial drawing is usually too light to show through and I'm set in my ways I guess too.
Hope those snowdrops are coming along xx

Sketchbook Squirrel said...

I'll be working on them today Claire. Update on preogress soon :)

Vicki Lee Johnston said...

I love the lightbox method and hope to get one - wish someone would make it for me! Am using the tracing method which helps with composition layout if you do it in sections - but the drawing isn't as fluid by the time you get it on the paper and I have to go over it ... have fun painting!

Rebecca said...

I've always used transfer paper but have been looking at a drafting table that has a built in lightbox. Hum...I make a mess with transfer paper so am really liking the idea of a lightbox.

Hedera said...

Your lightbox looks great - how wonderful to have such a "handy" Dad!! I always draw straight onto the paper which has its own pitfalls... On the upside - I have to be very disciplined and work lightly from the onset.

Hapy New Year :)

Sketchbook Squirrel said...

Many thanks for your insightful comments. It is always interesting to know how other artists get round common issues. How brave to draw straight onto the paper Hedera. I would love to be skilled enough but do not have the confidence, yet. :)